Off to College

This week, students across the US will be heading to college. First year students will be moving into dorm rooms and meeting new roommates. Returning students will be reconnecting with friends and professors. Across campus, students with disabilities may be navigating additional services and supports to help them with orientation, scheduling, transportation, technology, and more. Here are a few resources from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere which may help!

Mental health/psychiatric disabilities

The NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities has two guides to help college students with mental health conditions: Your College Community: How students with psychiatric disabilities can make the most of their college experience (PDF) and The Practical Guide for People with Disabilities Who Want to Go to College (PDF).

The NIDILRR-funded RRTC on Living and Working During the Transition to Adulthood also has several tip sheets written for and screened by young people with mental health conditions: My Mental Health Rights on Campus, Making My Transition Services Work for Me, and Getting Accommodations at College (all PDFs).

Physical/mobility disabilities

The NIDILRR-funded Moss Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Center helped to produce TBI: What College Disability Specialists and Educators Should Know about Executive Functions

The Shepherd Center, along with Ramp Less Traveled and Craig Hospital, produced this short video on University Accessibility After Spinal Cord Injury featuring the personal experiences and shared wisdom of college students with SCI.

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth offers the Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Services: A Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood with resources to help you manage this aspect of campus life.

Intellectual/developmental disabilities

ThinkCollege.net is a federally-funded resource center for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are planning to go to college or are already enrolled in college programs. Think College maintains the only comprehensive database of college programs geared toward these students in the US. Check out their documentary on Rethinking College

Sensory disabilities

The NIDILRR-funded National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision offers From School to College: A Transition Activity Calendar for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired, which starts the calendar as early as Middle School for a successful transition.

See how Hinds Community College (MS) developed Services for the Deaf and Hard-of Hearing to assist students with sensory disabilities in this NIDILRR-funded report.

All disabilities

Access to Success, developed under a NIDILRR-funded center at the University of Kansas is a free online course that teaches students with disabilities how to advocate for assistive devices and services.

These are just a few examples of resources available to new and returning college students with disabilities. You may also want to visit our friends at AbleData to look for assistive technology solutions to help with reading, studying, writing, even pursuing campus sports and the arts!

Getting involved in your campus community may help make it a more inclusive place. Check out NIDILRR Switzer Fellow Dot Nary, who focuses on “visitability” in her research. She helped the University of Kansas make their campus-wide fitness program more inclusive by integrating accessible routes in the campus activity routes.

Lastly, remember that just about anyone on campus could experience disability, either permanent or temporary, due to injury or illness. If you’re trying to figure out how to be a college student and manage a new disability, please reach out to your campus’ Disability Services Office for help.

Curious about research in postsecondary education and disability? See what’s in our REHABDATA database from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere (including international research)!

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